World Economy

The world economy can have a big impact on the U.S.—and vice-versa. Learn how the global economy works and how events in distant countries may affect you and your finances.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much is the world economy worth?

    There are over 7 billion people in the world across more than 200 countries, territories, and regional associations. One way to measure the world economy is to look at the gross domestic product (GDP). The World Bank measures GDP for the world as a whole. As of 2021, the world’s GDP was $96.1 trillion (in current U.S. dollars).

  • What is the largest market in the world economy?

    When measuring world economies by gross domestic product (GDP) in current, unadjusted prices, the U.S. is the largest market in the world economy. However, if you considered purchasing power parity (PPP), China would be seen as the world’s largest economy.

  • How does the world economy work?

    The world economy works through a series of economic transactions between countries. This includes international trade, currency exchange, international investing, immigration, and more. There are several agencies and organizations that help to run the world economy, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the United Nations, NATO, and more.

  • How much does the U.S. contribute to the world economy?

    The U.S. economy contributes trillions of dollars to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2021, the U.S. contributed more than $22 trillion to the world’s GDP. The U.S. is a leader in international trade and investment, which has a direct impact on the global economy. If the U.S. sees economic growth, the world economy will too.

  • What economic indicators are used to measure the global economy?

     The global economy can be measured by looking at gross domestic product (GDP), consumer spending, consumption, international trade and investment, money supply, national budgets and debt, and more. These economic indicators are looked at on the individual level for each country, territory, and region, and together as a whole.

Key Terms

Explore World Economy

The Chinese stock market
Why China's Stock Market Is Like a Casino
U.S. trade deficit with China for 2020 was $283.6 billion with total U.S. imports from China at $393.6 billion and total U.S. exports to China at $110 billion.
U.S. Trade Deficit With China and Why It's So High
China cargo trade
It's Good That China's Growth Is Slowing. Really.
A customer purchases goods at a supermarket in Huaibei, Anhui Province of China.
Why China Is the World's Largest Economy
U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the 2018 G7 Summit
What Happens When the World's 7 Top Leaders Meet
Russian Oil Tanks
Russia's Mixed Economy and How Pipeline Politics Holds the EU Hostage
What Was Brexit, and How Did It Impact the UK, EU, and the US?
A person traveling on a private plane
German chancellor Angela Merkel
Eurozone Debt Crisis
How Deforestation Costs You and Steps You Can Take Today
How to Measure GDP by country: official exchange rate, purchasing power parity, GDP per capita
3 Ways to Compare GDP Between Countries
Sheikh and European Businessmen
3 Types of Free Trade Agreements and How They Work
Chinese worker counting American currency
How China Influences the U.S. Dollar
Image shows a timeline between 2008 and 2018 with images of hands exchanging money, the Greek flag, and bags of money. Text reads: "The Greek debt crisis explained: the Greek debt crisis is the dangerous amount of sovereign debt Greece owed the EU between 2008 and 2018. In 2010, Greece said it might default on its debt, which would threaten the viability of the eurozone. To avoid this, the EU lent Greece enough to continue making payments. Germany and its bankers were the biggest lenders, and championed austerity measures including improving how Greece handled public finances; modernizing how Greece determined their financial stats and reporting; reforming Greece’s pension system. Results are mixed 2017: Greece ran a budget surplus of 0.8%; economy grew 1.4%; unemployment sat at 22%; one third of Greece’s population lived below the poverty line; debt-GDP ratio=182%
Understand the Greek Debt Crisis in 5 Minutes
Young Asian woman buying traditional Chinese desserts at a local market stall.
China's Plan to Replace the U.S. Dollar With the Yuan
gas shortage sign
The Truth About the 1973 Oil Crisis
two pPeople with helmets discussing products in front of a shipping container dock
Closed Economy
Text reads: "facts about India's economy: india has a mixed economy; half of the workers rely on agriculture; the cost of living is lower than in the U.S.; the indian middle class is bigger than the U.S. middle class; it's an attractive country for outsourcing, such as call centers; bollywood contributes billions to india's GDP"
Learn about India's Opportunities.
Icelandic volcano eruption
How a Volcanic Eruption Helped Iceland Recover
A woman uses the euro to purchase coffee
IMF Director Christine LaGarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
3 Ways the IMF Protects the Global Economy
Consumer at the gas station refueling car
Oil Price History Over the Decades
How to Ruin an Emerging Market Success Story
Man walking in front of the World Bank Group building in Washington
Some Say This Bank Secretly Controls the World
How the Iran Nuclear Deal Affects You
How Does the Yen Carry Trade Affect You?
Plastic bottles and polystyrene pollution floating in the water
How Air, Water, and Plastic Pollution Affect the Economy
Ship crossing through Panama Canal
How the Panama Canal Lowers Food Costs and Creates U.S. Jobs
student in science lab
What Is Educational Equity, and Why Does It Matter?
two people standing on a beach picking up trash and putting it into the plastic bag
Economic Impact of Water Pollution
Chinese President Xi Jinping Must Reform China's Economy
China's Economic Reform
Temple of Poseidon, Sounion, Greece
A Brief History of the European Debt Crisis
What to Know About Trump's Trade Wars: Trump's trade wars were part of his strategy to create jobs and lower U.S. trade deficit. The trade wars started a global tariff on steel, a tariff on European cars, and tariffs on Chinese imports. These tariffs imposed by the U.S. caused global stock markets to fall. In retaliation, other countries formed trade agreements while excluding the United States. Domestically, Trump's trade wars caused job loss and prevented innovation. In the long term, trade wars hinder both American and international economic growth
Why Trade Wars Are Bad and Nobody Wins
what to know about exchange rates
What Is an Exchange Rate?
Breaking Down the Symbols on the U.S Dollar
The Secret Symbols on the Back of the Dollar Bill
things NAFTA does: grants the most-favored nation status to all co-signers, eliminates tariffs on imports and exports between the three countries, all NAFTA countries must respect patents trademarks and copyrights, established procedures to resolve trade disputes, and according to NAFTA expoerters must get certificates of origin to waive tariffs
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Two factory workers manufacturing a car
What Are Tariffs?
An infographic of Trade Protectionism with an image of a cargo ship with an American flag and the headline “Trade Protectionism and Its Methods” and four separate methods described. “1. Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. It was designed to protect from agricultural imports from Europe. 2. When the government subsidizes local industries, That allows producers to lower the price of local goods and services. 3. Impose quotas on imported goods. No matter how low a foreign country sets the price through subsidies, it can’t ship more goods. 4. Deliberate attempt by a country to lower its currency value. This would make its exports cheaper and more competitive.”
Trade Protectionism
Image shows two women standing beside a tall chart. There is money falling from the sky. The first woman is wearing an old-fashioned frock with a large hat and feathers, as well as a corset. The other woman is wearing pinks lacks, a turtleneck, a denim blazer, and large modern earrings. Text reads: "The value of U.S. currency over the years: 1913 = $100 1920 = $197 1930 = $175 1940 = $142 1950 = $240 1960 = $299 1970 = $386 1980 = $794 1990 = $1,300 2000 = $1,722 2010 = $2,211 2018 = $2,529"
Why the Dollar Is Worth So Much Less Than It Used to Be
The History of NAFTA and Its Purpose
Dollar sign in oil
how does nato work? It offers protection of freedom and stability for members and their regions; NATO targets include weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cyber-attacks; NATO protection does not extend to civil wars or internal coups; When one NATO nation is attacked, all NATO nations will retaliate; NATO is funded by its members, with the U.S. contributing roughly 75% of NATO's budget.
NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Men eating in a soup kitchen during the US Great Depression
Those Who Don't Learn From Smoot-Hawley Are Doomed to Repeat It
Farmer loading community supported agriculture boxes from work shed into box truck for delivery
What Is the Current U.S. Trade Deficit?
Dollar Bill Detail
Dollar Decline vs. Dollar Collapse
Foreign Exchange Markets
The Market That Dwarfs the Stock Market
what to know about the us dollar as the global currency
Why the US Dollar Is the Global Currency
yuan dollar conversion
How a Tiny Change in the Yuan Can Panic Investors
Free Trade Agreement Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of Free Trade Agreements
dollar value in foreign currency
What Affects the U.S. Dollar Rate?
U.S. imports and exports for 2019 totaled $5.6 trillion, with $3.1 trillion in imports and $2.5 trillion in exports
U.S. Imports and Exports: Components and Statistics
Custom illustration showing the pros & cons of international trade. The illustration is divided in two with a semi driving on one side and on the other a far away train cutting through farmland. Pros: spurs economic growth, facilitates competitive advantages, and provides domestic companies experience in foreign markets. Cons: leads to job outsourcing and fewer dmoestic roles, causes other countries to lose agricultural base, and undercuts the prices of local farmers
International Trade: Pros, Cons, and Effect on the Economy
Value of Money
Who Decides How Much Money Is Worth?
Dollar sword and yen sword clashing in a currency war
Why Global Currency Wars Aren't as Dangerous as They Sound
current account
What Is the Current Account?
WTO protester
How the WTO Keeps Your Prices Low
Indonesian farmers protesting the WTO
The Real Reason Why the Doha Round of Trade Talks Failed
Warehouse worker updating stock in a mobile app
6 Pros and 6 Cons of NAFTA
Group of call center executives seated in a row working on their desktops.
What You Should Know About Outsourcing Jobs
Image shows what impacts the strength of the American dollar: When the Fed raises interest rates, the dollar's value gets stronger. If the euro weakens, the dollar strengthens. The large U.S. debt-to-gross-domestic product ratio can reduce the dollar rate
3 Reasons Why the Dollar Is So Strong Right Now

World Economy:

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Page Sources

  1. The World Bank. "GDP (Current US$)."

  2. The World Bank. "GDP, PPP (current international $)."

  3. The European Central Bank. "Our Money."

  4. The International Monetary Fund. "What Is The IMF?"

  5. The United Nations. "About Us."

  6. European Commission. "G7."

  7. The World Bank. "Ending Extreme Poverty and Promoting Shared Prosperity."

  8. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "What Is NATO?"

  9. The European Union. "What It Is And What It Does."

  10. The European Central Bank. "US Dollar (USD)."